Can those orange outdoor extension cords be run underground?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by emu!, Dec 8, 2011.

  1. emu!

    emu! Poster Extraordinaire

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    Anybody ever do this? I'm trying to get electricity to an outdoor shed that sits about 50 feet from the closest AC outlet. It would save me alot of time and $$$ to just dig a trench and drop the cord in it and cover it back up. But, I don't want to create a bigger problem. I thought of placing it in some pvc pipe, but that is a little more trouble and expense.

    The electrician guys want to charge me an arm and a leg. I'm down to one of each at the moment.
     
  2. AirBagTester

    AirBagTester Friend of Leo's

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    I have no idea, but here's one of the first things I found through Google:
    http://www.reddit.com/r/DIY/comments/di0ay/ask_rdiy_i_want_to_extend_power_to_a_shed_in_my/

    Sounds risky!
     
  3. goldtopper

    goldtopper Friend of Leo's

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    You can, people tell you not to, but it can be done. Make sure you have a heavy guage cord. You will run the risk of critters chewing it, earth heaves in the cold/thaw cycle or roots moving it.
    I run a long one to me chicken coop, through I do keep it above ground. You should have a GFI where you plug into your house at the very least.
     
  4. Rich_S

    Rich_S Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    No. You want type UF cable for direct burial. It looks like normal Romex (type NM) house-wiring cable, but it's solid plastic extruded around the wires - not a hollow sleeve with paper filler.

    PVC pipe is a good solution, too. It's cheap and easy to install, and has the advantage that if you have a problem with the old wire (or need to add a circuit) you can pull new wires in without digging the pipe back up. You don't need to run UF cable in the pipe, you can use individual type THHN wires, but you'll need some sort of junction box to transition back to Romex cable inside the house.

    More than you wanted to know, probably.
     
  5. paratus

    paratus Friend of Leo's

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    No,

    Use direct burial cable or a UFB variant of THNN.

    Also, don't count on PVC conduit staying water or dirt free for any extended period of time. If the soil on site isn't well drained it is just a matter of time.
     
  6. TheGoodTexan

    TheGoodTexan Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    What will you be powering up, in the shed?

    You need to make sure that what ever cable you do run is large enough to support the current draw that you'll be asking of it. There's a formula for determining the correct size gauge needed for what ever distance that you'll be running the cable. If your wire cannot support the current draw, you'll trip breakers at the very least. Worse than that, you can burn up equipment, or cause a fire.

    Just do it right the first time.
     
  7. horsespatoot

    horsespatoot Tele-Holic

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    Yep... agree with above poster .. they make an open bury Romex you can get a Lowe's or Home Depot. A buried extension cord, for long term use, will eventually fail.
     
  8. sonserve

    sonserve Friend of Leo's

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    If you are willing to settle for temporary just run a heavy guage cord. Use #14 wire minimum, 15 amp capacity - 1800 watts, 12 guage for 20 amps - 2400 watts. Watts = electrical consumption (load). The load determines whether the breaker will trip, wire size needs to be matched to the circuit ampacity, breaker size. The GFI is a good idea. THHN (the right extension cord would work) in 1/2" PVC is the way to go. UF cable 18" below grade will do.
    First determine maximum load you will add to the circuit, how much is already on that circuit, and then the size of the breaker.
    50' won't cost that much to just do it right the first time. Do yourself a favor, when you add up your watts (volts x amps) add 25% then size the wire. A small electric heater will pull 1500 watts (it will say on the device) x 125% = 1875 watts. That is a 15 amp circuit by itself.

    It's not a good idea to bury an extension cord. Don't do it.

    Don't get hurt, hurt someone else or start a fire.
     
  9. jkingma

    jkingma Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Run it in conduit.

    I ran an extension cord underground in conduit out to the boys' tree-fort about 12 years ago. Its about 8 inches underground and I've never had a problem with it. And I never have to worry about anyone shovelling thru it either.
     
  10. zooropamofo

    zooropamofo Tele-Afflicted

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    Always run it in a conduit. I wouldn't bother with a simple extension cord, use the correct underground cable (NMWU). Otherwise you've got a significant safety hazard.
     
  11. JCSouthpawtele

    JCSouthpawtele Friend of Leo's

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    The problem is you need to notify electric companies ans get this done to code. Call before you dig,there might be underground cable,sewer,etc in the path you plan to run.

    Go with the 14/3 from its own 30amp breaker in your house/garage breaker box. Bury it in PVC to the code depth for your area. 30 amp break should handle shed based power tools fairly well. I run a PA with my own 220v breaker box using 2 30amp breakers for PA,1 30 amp for lights and 1 for band stage stringers. I keep pigtails for any configuration for tie ins.
     
  12. Frontier9

    Frontier9 Friend of Leo's

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    Wouldn't the absolute easiest and cheapest route be to run an outdoor extension cord out to your shed above ground and roll it up on a reel when you are through?
     
  13. Duncas

    Duncas Friend of Leo's

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    go to your nearest B&Q (home depot in the states or sommit?) and get a reel of outdoor waterproof thick heavy duty wire and just get an electrician to patch it to your house mains. it would be more safe.
     
  14. sonserve

    sonserve Friend of Leo's

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    14 gauge = 15 amps.

    http://www.altestore.com/howto/Solar-Electric-Power/Installation/How-to-Size-Wiring-and-Cabling-for-Your-System/a62/
     
  15. mohair_chair

    mohair_chair Tele-Meister

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    You're already digging the trench, so running the wire in pvc pipe is not much trouble and not much expense, either. PVC is cheap. It's also infinitely safer. I wouldn't even consider doing direct burial.
     
  16. Telesavalis

    Telesavalis Friend of Leo's

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    All good advice here. Having wired 4 recording studios, a couple of garage/sheds, and countless indoor lighting fixtures, switch boxes, and outdoor outlets I can tell you that you don't want to use the typical orange extension cord in a burial installation. It will work, for a while, but then deteriorate and split and you're back to square one. Plus, you'd be looking at moisture/water issues with it. Do it right and be done with it. And you can do it all yourself with just a little basic know how.

    Like others have said use a cable rated for direct burial. There are a variety of guages of direct burial cable available at HD or Lowes, both with and without conduit, depending on your circuit load requirements. if you just want to run a basic light fixture and maybe an outlet you should be okay without having to add an add'l circuit. Conduit is your best course for long term protection of the cable, but direct burial cable without conduit will also work as long as there's no chance of cutting thru it with digging later on. It rated for direct burial...so that's what it's for. Bury it deep enough to protect it from standing water or direct surface water seepage. 8-12 inches should do it. For a 150 foot run I'd rent a small trencher and make the job quick and easy and maybe put it down deeper.

    I recently added a circuit and trenched a 155 foot run to power the submerged pump of a water well. The trencher was a lifesaver...well worth the $100 bucks for a half day rental...it dug the trench in about 20 minutes.

    I would suggest the simplest hook up would be tapping into the outlet you had planned on using the extension cord with and hardwiring the connection, although you could get a right angle plug and attach it to the buried cable and just plug it in. On the shed end of the line you could also connect a dual or quad outlet and then just daisy chain up the wall/ceiling to a simple light fixture.

    Yes, you're looking at a couple of hundred bucks - but it's worth it to do it right.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2011
  17. Post Toastie

    Post Toastie Poster Extraordinaire

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    Whatever you do make sure to put a GFI outlet on that circuit.
     
  18. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Bad idea, even fog trips the GFI I have on my Christmas lights using an orange extension cord. Putting orange underground is just asking for trouble.
     
  19. Lostinthe50s

    Lostinthe50s Tele-Afflicted

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    FFS. Are you really asking this question on an internet guitar forum? When your house burns to the foundation are you going to tell your insurance agent that the experts on tpdri told me it was OK? Would you prefer to save a couple hundrend bucks now in exchange for thousands negotiated off the sale price when you move beccause you bodged something off code? What about the poor soul who wants a rose bush beside the shed somewhere down the line and starts digging?

    By all means, save that couple hun. OR JUST DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME.
     
  20. JCSouthpawtele

    JCSouthpawtele Friend of Leo's

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